Taking on a home improvement project is exciting, but removing grout—the dense material that fills gaps and seals joints, most commonly on tiled surfaces—can quickly dampen a DIYer’s enthusiasm. Old, dirty grout is one of the main offenders in making a bathroom or kitchen look shabby, so swapping it out is a great way to refresh your space.
While grout removal is typically a labor-intensive process, the right tools can make things go more smoothly and speedily, and send you on your way to grout replacement. Read on to discover the best grout removal tools in their respective categories.
- BEST OVERALL: ENERTWIST Oscillating Tool
- BEST CORDLESS: DEWALT Oscillating Tool Kit
- BEST RECIPROCATING: DEWALT DWE305R Reciprocating Saw
- BEST ROTARY: Dremel 4000 High-Performance Rotary Tool
- BEST MANUAL: ReeTree Grout Removal Tool
- BEST GRINDER: PORTER-CABLE Angle Grinder
- BEST FOR SMALL SPACES: QEP 10020 Grout Removal Tool
There are many methods for removing grout, but each tool for the job comes with benefits and drawbacks. In general, the more powerful the tool, the more dust it will generate, so be sure to wear a face mask—and all other applicable personal protective equipment—while removing grout.
- An oscillating tool equipped with a grout removal blade is one of the best options, and with the right blade, can be used on any type of grout. Rather than grinding grout into messy dust like a reciprocating saw, rotary tool, or angle grinder, this tool operates at a slower speed to take out larger pieces of grout using an oscillating motion. Though far faster and easier than manual grout removal, an oscillating tool takes more time and effort than a higher-powered option.
- A reciprocating saw with a grout grabber blade is ideal for removing hard grout, like sanded or epoxy varieties. It can do the job quickly, but if you lack experience with these powerful saws—which can jump around during use and damage nearby tiles—go slowly until you get the hang of it.
- A rotary tool with a grout removal accessory is the slowest of powered grout removal options, yet it will still kick up a lot of dust, so it’s best for smaller grout removal projects. To avoid hitting the edge of a tile with a rotary tool, be sure that the gap between the tiles is at least 1/8-inch.
- An angle grinder is a powerful tool best suited to large grout removal projects with a lot of long, straight lines. They can easily cut through epoxy, sanded, or unsanded grout. Like rotary tools, their spinning disk requires a 1/8-inch gap between tiles to avoid damage. The main drawback with angle grinders is the excessive amount of dust they fling into the air, quickly creating a breathing hazard, so wear a standard N95 dust mask to filter out particles.
- A manual grout removal tool generally consists of a handle and blade, with varying degrees of shape and ergonomic support. They make grout removal long, hard, and tedious work, so only rely on them for very small projects with unsanded grout, or for cleaning up tile lines after using a powered option.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Grout Removal Tool
When looking for the best grout removal tool, consider some important aspects to ensure you pick the best tool for you and your project.
Manual vs. Mechanical
The size and time frame of the project will determine whether you use manual or mechanical grout removal tools. Note that the mechanical tools mentioned here all have various uses beyond removing grout, such as cutting and sanding.
- Manual grout removal tools can be employed for small projects, like a powder room floor or a kitchen backsplash. They also come in handy for precise detail work, such as removing fine deposits left on tiles after a power tool removes the bulk of the grout. A grout knife for sanded grout and a carbide cutter for unsanded grout are among your options; don’t try to remove epoxy grout with a manual tool.
- Mechanical grout removal tools are faster and better-suited to large projects. Less powerful options, like an oscillating tool or a rotary tool, easily cut through unsanded grout, while more powerful options like a reciprocating saw or angle grinder will take care of sanded and even epoxy grout.
Blade material becomes important when working with harder grout types, like sanded and epoxy grout.
- Carbide blades are the go-to for most grout removal tools as they are both moderately priced and hard enough to handle the toughest grout.
- Tungsten steel blades are harder and pricier than carbide options but they work fast and are especially good for dealing with a lot of epoxy grout.
- Stainless steel blades, the softest, cheapest option, aren’t effective for hard grout. Use them for unsanded grout removal or to clean up tile edges.
Type of Grout
There are three main types of grout you’re likely to encounter, and they range in difficulty to remove.
- Unsanded grout is most likely seen on tiled walls and showers in newer homes. It’s easy to penetrate with a manual removal tool, even with a stainless steel blade. If going mechanical, stick to lower-power options like an oscillating or rotary tool to reduce the risk of damaging tiles.
- Sanded grout is usually found on floors or outside settings of older homes. Very dense and solid with a primary component of silica sand and cement, it’s difficult to remove manually and should be tackled with a mechanical solution and a carbide blade.
- Epoxy grout, the hardest, coarsest type, is typically used in the showers of swimming pools and gyms, though it’s starting to gain popularity with residential tiling contractors. If a manual grout removal tool barely scratches the grout in question, it may be epoxy-based. A powerful tool such as an angle grinder or reciprocating saw should be used to remove epoxy grout.
The extra features on grout removal tools range widely. Mechanical tools may have speed options, trigger locks, built-in LED lights for better visibility, and convenient carrying cases. Manual options can include ergonomic grips, replacement blades, and variable blade tips for fine, moderate, or deep penetration.
Our Top Picks
Choose the best grout removal tool for your next renovation project out of these leading products.
Grout removal can be tough without the right tool, but this oscillating tool by Enertwist actually comes with a curved blade that’s ideal for removing grout from between tiles. In addition, the oscillating grout removal tool also includes multiple cutting blades that can be used on woodworking projects and home renovations.
The oscillating tool weighs about 3 pounds, so it isn’t lightweight, but it won’t impact the user a lot. When it comes time to change the blade this tool is equipped with a simple lever system to quickly replace the blade without the need for tools. Also, it can be operated at six different speeds with the variable speed control, though the mobility of the oscillating tool is limited by the length of the power cord.
- Type: Oscillating
- Blades: Multiple for wood, nails, and grout removal
- Weight: 3 pounds
- Tool-free blade change system
- Variable speed; 6 settings
- Comes with a grout removal blade
- Power cord limits mobility
Get the ENERTWIST grout removal tool on Amazon.
Instead of having to worry about tripping over a power cord, invest in this cordless oscillating tool by DEWALT to quickly and efficiently remove grout. The tool weighs only 2.6 pounds and it comes with two batteries and a charger, so one battery can always be charging while the other is in use. It also includes two wood cutting blades, but does not come with a blade that’s suitable for grout removal.
Just in case the work needs to be done in a dimly lit area, DEWALT added a built-in flashlight to this oscillating tool. Though neither the flashlight or the tool can function if the battery isn’t charged. This oscillating tool has a tool-free blade change system and the tool, blades, batteries, and charger can all fit neatly inside the included storage bag.
- Type: Oscillating
- Blades: Two for wood cutting
- Weight: 2.6 pounds
- Lightweight design
- Tool-free blade change system
- Built-in flashlight improves visibility
- Easy to store and transport with included carrying case
- Comes with two batteries and a charger
- Only includes wood cutting blades
- Cannot function without a charged battery
Get the DEWALT grout removal tool at The Home Depot.
The DEWALT DWE305R saw uses a 12-amp motor to quickly remove any type of grout, and it’s corded for consistent power output. Pair it with a carbide grout grabber blade and take advantage of the variable speed trigger for enhanced control—important to avoid damaging tiles.
The keyless, lever-action blade clamp makes for fast blade changes, and there are four blade positions for increased versatility. The saw weighs in at just over 8 pounds, which is pretty hefty and could increase fatigue, but the power it provides can help get the job done faster.
- Type: Reciprocating
- Blades: None included
- Weight: 8 pounds
- Powerful 12-amp motor
- Keyless clamp for quick blade changes
- Multiple blade positions enhance control and maneuverability
- Grout grabber blade not included
- Heavier saw can increase user fatigue
Get the DEWALT grout removal tool on Amazon and at The Home Depot.
With a name virtually synonymous with rotary tools, Dremel’s entry on a “best” list is no surprise. The Dremel 4000 features a variable speed dial that ranges from 5,000 to 35,000 RPM, enough power for unsanded or sanded grout removal.
The lightweight and ergonomic design allows for enhanced control and longer use without fatigue. Like all rotary tools, however, it can only be used on grout where the tiles are at least 1/8” apart. The versatile tool—sure to come in handy for glass cutting or finish sanding as well as grout removal—includes 30 different accessories, two attachments, and a carrying case.
- Type: Rotary
- Blades: Cutting, grinding, and sanding blades
- Weight: 1.25 pounds
- Lightweight design
- Versatile tool; comes with 30 Dremel accessories
- Variable speed operation up to 35,000 RPM
- Includes carrying case for easy transportation
- Corded tool limits user mobility
Get the Dremel grout removal tool at Amazon, The Home Depot, and Walmart.
For small grout removal jobs as well as detail work power tools can’t manage, the ReeTree grout remover is a superior choice. Its tungsten steel tips can handle both unsanded and sanded grout.
There are three tip shapes designed for fine, moderate, and deep penetration between tiles, while eight sharpened scraping edges increase efficiency. The ergonomic grip and 13-inch length make it easier to clean hard-to-reach places while minimizing fatigue.
- Type: Manual
- Blades: 4
- Weight: 0.25 pounds
- Extremely lightweight
- Durable tungsten steel blades
- Designed for fine, moderate, and deep tile penetration
- Easy to use
- Manual operation increases working time and fatigue
Get the ReeTree grout removal tool on Amazon.
For big, tough grout removal jobs, this angle grinder from PORTER-CABLE boasts a powerful 7-amp motor perfect for sanded and epoxy grout (indeed, it’s too much tool for unsanded grout). The 11,000 RPMs of force quickly cut through grout, and the sturdy design means it’s built to last.
At 4 pounds, it’s half the weight of a reciprocating saw, letting you work longer without tiring. A wheel guard helps protect your face and hands while you grind away, but expect a lot of dust—as you’d find with any angle grinder.
- Type: Angle grinder
- Blades: Standard cutting/grinding wheel
- Weight: 4 pounds
- Compact and easy to handle
- Impressive 11,000 RPM speed
- Can be used with sanded and epoxy grout
- Built-in wheel guard helps prevent injury
- Any cutting or grinding produces a lot of dust
Get the PORTER-CABLE grout removal tool on Amazon and at Walmart.
The QEP grout removal tool has a modest, 9-inch length and the head of the tool has a triangle-shaped blade with three points for fine to moderate penetration into the grout, as well as six sharpened scraping edges to help improve overall efficiency.
This grout removal tool is ideal for small grout removal jobs and is specifically suited for removing grout in tight areas and small spaces. This can include behind the toilet, under the sink, or even in the corners of the room.
It doesn’t weigh a lot, at just 0.3 pounds, so the weight of the tool won’t impact user fatigue, but the ongoing use of this manual grout removal tool will definitely begin to tire the user. Thankfully, the blades on the grout removal tool are carbide-tipped, allowing it to pierce through the grout without much issue.
- Type: Manual
- Blades: 1
- Weight: 0.3 pounds
- Extremely lightweight
- Ideal for accessing tight spaces
- Strong carbide-tipped blade
- Sharpened scraping edges increase efficiency
- Manual operation increases time and fatigue
Get the QEP grout removal tool on Amazon and at Walmart.
The ENERTWIST oscillating tool is one of the best options for grout removal available, thanks to the powerful 4.2-amp motor and six variable speed settings. For a light-duty, manual option, we recommend the ReeTree grout removal tool.
For the purpose of finding the top grout removal tools available by reputable manufacturers and sellers, it was necessary to research each potential option thoroughly in order to determine which tools were the best for removing tile grout.
The variety of tools that can be used to remove grout made it easy to find potential products, but difficult to narrow them down. To help choose the top tool it was necessary to consider the weight of the tool, whether it comes with a blade, the type of blade, the type of tool, and the suitability of the tool for grout removal.
Preference was given to lightweight products that came with one or more grout removal blades. Stainless steel blades were acceptable, but products with carbide or tungsten steel blades stood out from competitors. In addition, a product was dropped from consideration if there was any indication that the tool would be unable to adequately remove grout.
If you’re still wondering about these tools, take a look at these commonly asked questions about grout removal and the detailed answers below.
Q: What is the easiest way to remove grout?
Ease of use often depends on how familiar the user is with the specific tool, so it’s difficult to state what method would be the easiest for everyone, but one of the easiest options for removing grout is to use an oscillating electric grout removal tool. The oscillation movement pulls out large pieces of grout instead of having to grind through several layers with a Dremel grout removal tool or deal with the power of a reciprocating saw.
Q: Can you remove grout by hand?
It isn’t difficult to learn how to remove grout by hand, but the process is time-consuming and takes a lot of physical effort. There are many manual grout removal tool options available, so find the tool that best meets your needs then use it to scrape, break, and remove pieces of grout from between the tiles.
Q: How deep should you remove grout?
If you are removing grout with electric grout removal tools, manual tools, or using a specific grout removal attachment with a multi-functional power tool it’s important to know that you only need to remove about ⅛-inch of grout in order to embed new grout between the tiles. However, if the existing grout is broken, chipped, cracked, shrunk, or otherwise damaged it should be removed.
Q: Do I have to remove all grout before regrouting?
No, if the existing grout is in decent condition then you only need to remove about ⅛-inch of grout in order to regrout the tiles. Though any damaged grout should be completely removed and replaced.